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by Pete Ellis


March 02, 2005

It would appear that the State and local government elsewhere are a bit more active in terms of solving local traffic problems and pursuing solutions.

So it is sort of interesting that action takes place elsewhere but concern is pretty much limited to talk in Ketchikan except for forcing residents to tear down their fences.

Pete Ellis
Ketchikan, AK - USA


From the Anchorage Daily News the following:

Wasilla planners map out stoplights
TRAFFIC PROPOSAL: Less expensive four-way stops, roundabouts may also work.
Anchorage Daily News

Published: March 2nd, 2005
Last Modified: March 2nd, 2005 at 03:18 AM

WASILLA -- Drivers shouldering their way through streets in this city may one day find more than 20 new traffic lights and four-way stops, even roundabouts.

The city Planning Commission recommended them, and the City Council will Monday consider whether to approve the plans as well. The blueprint calls for as many as five new downtown stoplights.

Drivers will recognize Nelson Avenue at Lucille Street and Main Street at Swanson Avenue, and others, among the targeted intersections.

"All of those are intersections that we and DOT hear about and drive through and realize and recognize that they're a problem," Wasilla city planner Sandra Garley said.

The commission recommendation left open a specific timeline and who would pay for each one.

The state Department of Transportation and Public Facilities has mapped out prospective sites for stoplights, but that doesn't necessarily mean they're needed right away. If the City Council approves the blueprint, it goes to the Transportation Department, which will use it to plan for new signals along state-owned roads like the Parks Highway and Bogard Road.

Alaska Night & Day Recovery & Towing regularly hauls cars from accident scenes around Wasilla, and owner Gary Jacobsen said Nelson Avenue, in particular, sees a high number of wrecks at its Main and Lucille intersections.

Jacobsen, who moved to the Matanuska-Susitna Borough about 15 years ago, described congestion as a growing hassle in the Valley.

"I've watched all these new businesses go up, and houses, and I've watched the traffic go up tenfold," he said.

The Valley population grew from under 40,000 in 1990 to an estimated 70,000 people last year, according to the state. Commuters clog the Parks Highway on weekdays, while caravans of recreational vehicles, snowmachine trailers and other traffic flood the road on weekends. Left turns in downtown Wasilla, meanwhile, can be hair-raising.

"We have a traffic problem that's going to become worse, and something has to be done at these key intersections," Planning Commissioner Stan Tucker said in February, when the group passed a resolution supporting the city's first-ever traffic signal blueprint.

Brad Sworts, DOT central region area planner, helped introduce the plans to the commission. He said he's seen tremendous traffic growth in the Valley in the past two or three years. That has sparked more planning on the part of local governments like the city of Wasilla.

"They're finding if they want to have a little bit of control over the growth and not just have it develop at its own pace in its own way, it's important to get everybody together and agree on how some of these things should be done," Sworts said.

Sworts told the commission that not all the highlighted intersections might need a stoplight. Less expensive four-way stops and roundabouts may also work.

Roundabouts, now being used in Anchorage, are circular interchanges designed to keep traffic moving and are powered by good manners rather than electricity. Drivers are expected to yield to vehicles approaching on their left.

A new stoplight can cost between $500,000 and $1 million, depending on where it goes, Sworts said.

Over the past several years, the DOT planner said, many developers have called for more stoplights along the Parks Highway.

Ideally, the signals would be about half a mile apart. At that distance, they could be wired so that someone traveling at the speed limit could hit green light after green light instead of waiting in stop-and-go traffic while trying to get through town.

The new Wasilla traffic signal proposal also includes suggestions for future local road connections along highways. It doesn't specify when signals should be installed.

Today, there are 20 traffic lights in the Mat-Su Borough, including 11 in Wasilla and three in Palmer, according to Scott Thomas, DOT regional traffic engineer.

The next lights in Wasilla will likely include one at Home Depot and two along Lucille Street, at the Parks Highway and Nelson Avenue intersections.

The department also is designing signals at Trunk Road and Bogard Road, and in Palmer at the Glenn Highway and Dogwood Avenue intersection.

According to DOT, other intersections that are likely spots for signals include:

Main and Swanson streets,

Crusey and Swanson streets,

Parks Highway and Vine Road,

Palmer-Wasilla Highway at Hyer and Hemmer roads, and

Wasilla Fishhook and Seldon Road.




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